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Any tips on cleaning... especially the leadscrew?

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Pcmaker

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#1
I can't use the handle on my carriage wheel. I gotta grab the disc part of it and rotate with both hands, so the carriage moves smoothly with minimal stops.

What's the easiest/best way to clean the leadscrew or cleaning the lathe in general? I tried wiping the leadscrew with a rag, but that doesn't do much. I"m thinking of taking it out and spraying it with brake clean.
 

BtoVin83

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#2
I take a toothbrush, turn the lathe on and as the leadscrew turns run the tooth brush down it.
 

stuartw

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#3
You mentioned lead screw, is your lead screw engaged? or are you just using your hand wheel on the carriage? On my lathe at least, there is a gear which engages a rack. When the lead screw is engaged, the screw turns a gear which meshes with the gear that engages the rack.

I wouldn't spray it down with a de-greaser if it was me, and if I was unsure, I would check out the manual to figure out which components were involved and carefully examine and clean just those components.

Edit: I also have a tooth brush or another soft bristled brush. If you're cleaning mating surfaces, be careful, the swarf can scratch the ways etc.
 

GL

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#4
Pcmaker - Generally the carriage is run by a rack gear under the ways, not the lead screw, so gunk there probably isn't the problem. If it has always been tight, look at the gibb adjustment. If it used to be smooth, and changed to tight, then crud is somewhere to change the game. You might look at the screws that hold the carriage together, sometimes they get loose and will change the way things move together. Worst case may be to take to carriage apart to clean everything-take pictures and work slow. It's that spring or the ball detent under the ding valve that you didn't see that will migrate to another dimension that really causes problems. Lead screw hose off with cleaner into a partially wrapped rag works pretty well without taking it apart, at least that's how I have had good luck. Followed by a nylon brush traveling down a spinning screw to get the bottom of the threads.

Greg
 

markba633csi

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#5
Loop a piece of string around the leadscrew and run it very slowly while you hold both ends. Cleans it well. Be careful, don't get tangled in it, make the string very short and hold it with the tips of your fingers for safety. If it gets caught, let go immediately
A brush is probably safer, but I have done the string method and haven't been maimed
 

royesses

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#6
With the lead screw disengaged the carriage should move easily with the hand wheel. It sounds as though the gibs are too tight. Here is a link to the LMS min lathe guide it shows how to adjust the gibs:
https://littlemachineshop.com/images/gallery/Info/MiniLatheUsersGuide.pdf

Also the half nuts need to totally disengage the lead screw. If not adjusted properly they can drag on the lead screw.

When I first got my mini lathe I disassembled it and cleaned all the protective grease off with mineral spirits. Then reassembled and checked all adjustments. Many problems were solved before I used it.

Roy
 
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benmychree

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#7
Loop a piece of string around the leadscrew and run it very slowly while you hold both ends. Cleans it well. Be careful, don't get tangled in it, make the string very short and hold it with the tips of your fingers for safety. If it gets caught, let go immediately
A brush is probably safer, but I have done the string method and haven't been maimed
String or small cordage is the classic recommended method, it does work well.
 

Downunder Bob

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#8
A thick string that just fits in the threads is very good, soak it in kero or diesel, then loop it over once only do not wrap around leadscrew, too much risk of it getting caught. wind saddle all the way to one end. Set lathe running with lead screw engaged and run the string along screw, reverse lathe, repeat until screw is clean, now wind saddle to the other end and repeat. when leadscrew is clean dry it and lubricate with good machine oil.
 

Downunder Bob

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#9
I have seen lathes where a bristle brush has been mounted over the lead screw on the chuck end of saddle, this will keep the leadscrew clean, just oil it regularly. The brush will need replacing occasionally.
 

Pcmaker

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#10
When I first got my mini lathe I disassembled it and cleaned all the protective grease off with mineral spirits. Then reassembled and checked all adjustments. Many problems were solved before I used it.
the lever that engages the half nut is hard to to push or pull.
 

SamI

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#11
The half nuts have adjustable gibs on them also (or at least mine did) so it's worth checking to see if these need adjusting too. There should be some resistance however as I found out - if you set them too slack they have a habit of jumping on the lead screw which can completely ruin a part when threading!

As for the carriage, presumably the hand wheel is stiff to turn? As has been mentioned before it could be the gib adjustment. One way to check this would be to remove the large 8mm hex screws on the carriage that hold the apron in place. Be careful doing this as I can't remember if you need to remove the lead screw or not to do this. Thinking about it you probably do.

With the apron off you should be able to move the carriage back and forth by hand. If it's a problem with the gibs then you should feel the tightness (i.e. it will be difficult to move). If all moves freely then it's a problem with the rack gear. As a side note, the gearing for the handwheel is very prone to getting chips stuck in it. Many people have made covers for the back of the apron to help with this. It could simply be that chips have worked their way in there (will generally rotate freely and then get stuck as a chip jams the gears). On my lathe the apron would end up coming off every few weeks to dig the chips out. Really should have made a cover for mine but didn't have a drill press at the time and didn't fancy drilling the holes by hand. Plus on my variant of the mini lathe clearance at the back is not great.

As Roy said these machines benefit from a rebuild in the early days. It does sound like a complete ball ache but it really helps you to get to know your machine (helps massively with troubleshooting later on!) and it means that the lathe is properly adjusted so you will get the best results possible from it. Sure you may not get everything perfect first time (as a number of these adjustments take a bit of experience to get the sweet spot) but it will likely run a lot better than out the box and you gain a heap of knowledge of how the machine operates in the process!
 

Pcmaker

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#12
I took it apart and cleaned and lubed all the gears. Adjusted the screws. It's much better now. I still can't figure out the thread dial indicator not moving. I've been playing with the carriage set screws to make the carriage slide better, but it messes with the thread dial indicator not moving. If I push the carriage in, so the gear in the thread dial indicator mates with the leadscrew, then I have a hard time working the auto feed lever. For now, I just have the thread dial indicator set not to work. It'll be a long time before I use that. The carriage being smooth and the auto feed are much more important.
 
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WarrenP

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#13
Dont know if this is what you see, but, The thread dial wont move with the half nut (auto feed) engaged, only when it is not engaged.
 

Cobra

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#14
I can't use the handle on my carriage wheel. I gotta grab the disc part of it and rotate with both hands, so the carriage moves smoothly with minimal stops.

What's the easiest/best way to clean the leadscrew or cleaning the lathe in general? I tried wiping the leadscrew with a rag, but that doesn't do much. I"m thinking of taking it out and spraying it with brake clean.
I take a 2 foot length of cotton garden cord (about 1/8") Put it behind the lead screw and run the lathe until the cord gets to the head stock. The cord cleans out the lead screw threads completely, my hands are way away from the moving bits of the machine and if it ever snagged on something, you just let go.
 

royesses

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#15
I took it apart and cleaned and lubed all the gears. Adjusted the screws. It's much better now. I still can't figure out the thread dial indicator not moving. I've been playing with the carriage set screws to make the carriage slide better, but it messes with the thread dial indicator not moving. If I push the carriage in, so the gear in the thread dial indicator mates with the leadscrew, then I have a hard time working the auto feed lever. For now, I just have the thread dial indicator set not to work. It'll be a long time before I use that. The carriage being smooth and the auto feed are much more important.
Is it because the thread dial does not move when the half nuts are engaged? That is normal. It should only turn when the half nuts are not engaged. Once the carriage and lead screw are in synch one gear tooth on the thread dial will follow the thread and not need to turn. I don't even have my thread dial on the lathe since I have a metric lead screw. It doesn't work with metric lead screws. You don't need the thread dial anyway. It is nice to have working though. Engage half nut. Cut threads. Stop lathe at end of cut. Pull tool away from thread noting the setting first. reverse motor to get back past the starting point. Set tool for the next cut. Put lathe in forward again, make the next cut. As long as the half nuts stay engaged the spindle and lead screw will stay synchronized and track the first thread. Sounds much more complex than it is.

You are doing great. Stay with it . You will find it very easy to cut threads when you need to. Your in what I call the problem solving phase now which helps get you familiar with the lathe and its workings. The fact that you have stayed with it and are still asking questions is a wonderful thing. We are here to help you. Believe it or not this will eventually become fun and you will be helping others get started with their mini lathe kits.

Roy
 

P. Waller

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#16
Run the carriage to the far end, run the spindle as fast as possible at the highest thread lead available and blow it off with an air gun.
 

Silverbullet

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#17
Kerosene brushed on it running let it work a few minutes , then hold a stiff bristle brush while it's turning . Take the dial off the carriage and soak in kerosene overnight , then try by hand to free it up back and forth use heat if it's to stiff but don't burn yourself do it out on a metal bench or concrete. You can't jam the handle to engage the carriage hold it down till it catches the thread on the shaft . That whole carriage needs good clean and lube by the sounds of it. Don't rush or more damage will be incurred . Get good way oil and use it often even if you don't run it much. Work the lathe to distribute the oils . Don't use air guns it blows the chips into the carriage and other places bad even up in the head stock I've seen it .
 

SamI

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#18
It's maybe worth having a flick through the littlemachineshop's user guide here for their mini lathe as adjusting the half nuts along with many other adjustments is covered in there. The only thing is it lacks a lot of pictures.

As for the thread dial indicator adjustment, if you can see the hole in the picture below, there should be a cap screw in there. Loosen the screw slightly and pivot the thread dial indicator so that the gear meshes with the lead screw. Re-tighten the screw and it should be working. As has been mentioned before, it will only spin when the half nuts are disengaged.


Note, the picture is not my own but has been taken from the this page. There is a huge amount of information on mini-lathe.com and it's mostly supported by lots of pictures which really helped me when i was just starting out.
 

Pcmaker

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#19
Good idea. Thanks.

Anyone know what grit grinding stone for bench grinder is good for grinding HSS blanks?
 

Downunder Bob

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#20
Good idea. Thanks.

Anyone know what grit grinding stone for bench grinder is good for grinding HSS blanks?

60 is a pretty good compromise between quick material removal and good finish, especially if you use a diamond lap or oil stone for final finishing. Also most important is keeping the wheel well dressed.
 

Pcmaker

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#21
Thanks. Off to Home Depot I go.

Anyone have a good chart for identifying screws? I have thread pitch tool to identify thread pitch, but I need a chart to tell what size the screw is by measuring the peak thickness with a caliper in decimals. Metric and SAE
 

RandyM

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#22
Thanks. Off to Home Depot I go.

Anyone have a good chart for identifying screws? I have thread pitch tool to identify thread pitch, but I need a chart to tell what size the screw is by measuring the peak thickness with a caliper in decimals. Metric and SAE
I am a little confused, you need a fraction/decimal chart? And it really is not needed for metric. The fastener size is the OD of the thread unless you are talking about the numbered SAE fasteners?
 

Pcmaker

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#23
I am a little confused, you need a fraction/decimal chart? And it really is not needed for metric. The fastener size is the OD of the thread unless you are talking about the numbered SAE fasteners?
Something similar to this chart on this video

 

Btroj

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#24
I just google "thread identification chart" and lots of choices pop up. I pick one I like and print it out.
 

RandyM

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#25
Something similar to this chart on this video
We have a few in our Download section for you to view and print out. What you are inquiring about are screw thread charts.
 

Pcmaker

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#26
Thanks. I'll look for those charts in the downloads section. I wanna know which drill bit size I need to drill what type holes on the types of threads I need to tap.
 

RandyM

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Thanks. I'll look for those charts in the downloads section. I wanna know which drill bit size I need to drill what type holes on the types of threads I need to tap.
OK but, that is another chart. Look for the Tap Drills charts.
 

royesses

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#28
Here is a great chart from LMS.

Roy
 

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RWanke

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#29
And just for your information on that chart you want to use the Tap Drill size for the threaded hole you are making not the Clearance Drill size.
 

Ken from ontario

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